PETALING JAYA: A think tank says the government is to blame for the apparent ignorance among the country’s young of the concept of corruption.
The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) said when a blatant case of corruption takes place with those involved going unpunished, it was natural for the public to think it was permissible for them to engage in corrupt practices as well.
“I place the blame on the leadership,” C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said when contacted by FMT.
“When laws are properly enforced and applied equally by institutions without fear or favour, a more enabling environment can ensue for a culture of honesty and integrity among the young generation.”
She was responding to a study by the Malaysian Integrity Institute (Integrity) in which it was revealed that many university students had only a superficial knowledge of corruption, with one in three believing that accepting “gifts” in exchange for favours was not wrong.
According to the study, 35.8% of respondents said the acceptance of gifts in the form of money, goods or services in exchange for services rendered was not a corrupt act.
Integrity president Anis Yusal Yusoff said the findings were a cause for concern and showed the need to re-evaluate the role of education.
Youth activist Adrian Lim agreed with Cynthia, saying there was no clear line drawn when high-ranking government officials involved in corrupt acts did not feel the need to explain anything to the public.
“The message being sent is ‘there is nothing wrong’. So the youths grow up thinking there is nothing wrong,” he told FMT.
Lim said no amount of education or lessons from textbooks could teach the youth about corruption because what was taught in schools and practised by the country’s leaders appeared at odds with it.
Malaysia recently saw a drop in ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2016, coming in 55th out of 176 countries with a score of 49.
This was against its score of 50 in 2015 and 52 in 2014.
Another survey by Transparency International called the Global Corruption Barometer, saw 60% of Malaysian respondents saying the level of corruption had increased, while 53% felt the government was ineffective in handling the fight against corruption.
The annual survey also concluded that when politicians failed to tackle corruption, people tended to become cynical.